Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.
Miguel Jimenez, 43, and Marina Sanchez Pajon, 29, both of Miami, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in the Southern District of Florida. Jimenez was sentenced to serve 87 months in prison and Pajon was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison. Jimenez and Pajon pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
Jimenez and Pajon, who are married, were owners and operators of Flores Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and physical therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries.
According to court documents, Jimenez and Pajon operated Flores Home Health for the purpose of billing Medicare for, among other things, expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided. Jimenez’s primary role at Flores Home Health involved controlling the company and running and overseeing the schemes conducted through Flores Home Health. Both Jimenez and Pajon were responsible for negotiating and paying kickbacks and bribes, interacting with patient recruiters, and coordinating and overseeing the submission of fraudulent claims to the Medicare program.
Jimenez, Pajon, and their co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for the recruiters providing patients to Flores Home Health for home health and therapy services that were medically unnecessary and/or not provided. They also paid kickbacks and bribes to co-conspirators in doctors’ offices and clinics in exchange for home health and therapy prescriptions, medical certifications, and other documentation. Jimenez, Pajon, and their co-conspirators used the prescriptions, medical certifications, and other documentation to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health care services, which Jimenez and Pajon knew was in violation of federal criminal laws.
From approximately October 2009 through approximately June 2012, Flores Home Health was paid approximately $8 million by Medicare for fraudulent claims for home health services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.
The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney A. Brendan Stewart of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5.5 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .